Acclimatisation is one of the dire needs for every tourists planning for a Leh Ladakh tour! Owing to the steep and staggering altitude, the entire Ladakh valley experiences a climate that is much below the average temperature in India.
For an outsider, any exposure to this freezing temperature can give rise to serious ailments; Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) being the most common. At such towering height where oxygen level is very sparse, in addition to difficulty in breathing, visitors on their Leh Ladakh tour can also get exposed to nausea (tendency to vomit), fatigue, lassitude, choking, and several others. Conditions can even get worse to a level where staying at such astounding heights become extremely inhospitable if not attended properly!
Here are some of the salient features regarding acclimatisation in Ladakh that every visitor should know even before planning their Leh Ladakh tour or even before booking any of the Leh Ladakh tour packages:
What is Acclimatisation?
Acclimatisation can be defined as the process wherein our body gets adapted to certain climatic conditions to maintain its metabolism and required mechanism to keep us alive.
With attaining greater height during a Leh Ladakh tour, the oxygen level also decreases. However, since our body requires a certain amount of oxygen intake, we tend to breathe in more frequently or hastily. The increase in our breathing rate, though compensates the lack of oxygen, it makes our body tired and also increases the chances of becoming fatigue.
To overcome this adverse situation, our body needs to get adapted to low temperatures or high altitudes. This entire process, in scientific terms, is defined as acclimatisation.
What Is Acute Mountain Sickness?
Acute Mountain Sickness is one of the most common sickness caused by altitude gain. As climbers ascend upward, oxygen level or pressure starts reducing drastically. Due to lack of oxygen in the blood system, climbers can get exposed to a series of sickness. These ailments or sickness are collectively called as Acute Mountain Sickness.
Chances of Getting Prone to Acute Mountain Sickness with Altitude Gain:
- Between 8,000 – 12,000ft: High
- Between 12,000 – 18,000ft: Serious
- Beyond 18,000ft: Grievous
Well, till 8,000ft, climbers might not face any difficulty or experience any symptoms of AMS. However, things can get crucial beyond this height. As lack of oxygen gives rise to carbon dioxide content in the body, climbers can undergo fatigue, choking, nausea, and other such ailments that might result in ataxia (to lose full body control).
Also, since it is partially impossible to predict who are more prone to AMS, it is advisable for every climber to follow the AMS precautions, carry basic AMS medications, or descend down if situation gets worse with height.
Tips to Get Acclimatised to Leh Ladakh Climate:
Anyone and everyone planning for a Leh Ladakh tour, or those who are already revelling their Leh Ladakh tour packages, must follow these preventive measures to get acclimatised to the climatic conditions while on a Leh Ladakh tour:
- Maintain Body Temperature:
While on a Leh Ladakh tour, you must carry enough of warm wears, and also use them strictly to maintain your body temperature. Falling of the body temperature can be a quick call to AMS.
- Ascend by Degrees:
On reaching an altitude of 10,000ft, climbers must not stretch their climbing schedule too much. Post attaining this height, they must not exceed 1,000ft in a day, and should spend overnight after completing this height. Doing more than 1,000ft in a day can result in serious consequences.
- Maintain Body’s Hydration Level:
Decrease in the hydration level can make you prone to AMS severely. Maintain your body’s hydration level by drinking enough fluids; ORS water, milk, soup, ginger-water, tea, juice and coffee are recommended. However, there is an exception with tea and coffee as they are high on caffeine.
- Do Not Skip Meal:
Most of the amateur climbers assume, consuming regular meals might make them feel heavy and cause a discontinuation in climbing. Well, this is utterly a wrong notion. Skipping meals can slow down your body mechanism, cause dehydration and invite multiple ailments while climbing; especially while on an expedition in Leh Ladakh region.
- Avoid Intoxicants in All Form:
Consumption of intoxicating products can slow down your body leading to various forms of AMS. At times, intoxicants can result in quick and vital consequences.
- Avoid Getting Over-Hydrated:
While above 10,000ft, make sure that you do not force yourself to drink fluidic drinks even when you are not thirsty. This can over-hydrate your body, which again can make you vulnerable to AMS.
- Avoid Over-Sleeping or Extended Naps:
As we sleep, our body’s metabolism reduces and thus respiration also comes down. Sleeping for long hours can further slowdown the respiration process and finally result in AMS. If possible, hike during the daytime and try to descend down by evening; do not take nap during the daytime.
- Stay Calm and Relaxed:
Beyond 10,000ft, try to stay calm and relaxed by not involving in anything that requires high physical activity. In extreme cases, take the help of other group members to reduce the amount of physical labour involved.
- Avoid High Medicine Doses:
Consuming a quite lot of medicines can also bring down body’s metabolism and finally result in weakness. Once weak, you can get vulnerable to several altitude sicknesses.
- Carry Basic Medications:
Before joining or signing in for any hiking Leh Ladakh tour, consult your organises about the basic medications required. Pack your stuff accordingly with all such medications.
- Do Not Hide Ailments (If Any):
While signing in for a Leh Ladakh tour, make sure, you discuss everything with your group leader or guide. People suffering from heart diseases, asthma, joint problems, and other such ailments are not allowed to high altitudes. It is also advisable for the expecting mothers to refrain from Leh Ladakh tours.
- Stay Low and Get Down:
In extreme cases, if your body refuses to get acclimatised even after following every precaution, get down as quickly as possible.
How to Know If It Is AMS and What Measures to Take?
Consult the list below to know the symptoms and measures to overcome AMS:
||Symptoms of AMS
||Measures to Take
|8,000ft – 12,000ft
||Nausea, Fatigue, Breathing Difficulty, Abrupt Sleep Cycle, Anxiousness
||Consult with group leader or medical advisor. Descend down if things don’t get better even after proper medication.
|12,000ft – 18,000ft
||Chronic Headache, Ataxia (Inability to Control the Body)
||Take Advanced Medication; If No Benefit, Start Descending Down To At Least 300-650m.
||Ataxia Accompanied by Chronic Headache and Other Symptoms
||Immediately Start Descending; At Least 650-1,200m.